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General News Fri, 16 Nov 2001

Minister accused of playing PR in cyanide affair

Four non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have accused the Minister for Environment and Science, Professor Dominic Fobih of playing a public relations role in the Goldfields cyanide spillage issue.

The four - Third World Network-Africa; Centre for Public Interest Law; Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining; and League of Environmental Journalists in a statement expressed their dismay at what they termed the Minister's "seeming public relations role".

"Indeed it cannot be doubted that the attitude and pronouncements of the Minister have substantially prejudiced the investigations he instructed the agencies under his Ministry to conduct." "We wonder whether his loyalty lies with the good people of Ghana or with the mining companies?"

The four said they believe that the Minister's press conference where he stated that the first reporter had "blown the story out of proportion" was likely to influence the results of the independent tests that he charged certain institutions to undertake in the cyanide spillage.

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"We believe his announcement has not only influenced the results of the tests conducted by the Water Resources Commission but also laid bare a serious conflict of interest, credibility and trust, thereby putting in doubt the Ministry and the Environmental Protection Agency's mission as watchdogs of the environment."

The statement said the four NGOs were, however, not surprised at this behaviour "because our long working experience with communities affected by mining has revealed that it is a usual practice of the state to collude with mining companies against the interest and concerns of local communities who sit on the ore deposits."

The statement said the long silence of the EPA on the matter of cyanide spillage was not only a denial of the peoples' rights to know but might also amount to an attempt to shield the company.

The EPA owed it a duty to the citizens of Ghana to ensure that they had access to information, especially communities that were directly affected by the spillage. "Information from the company on the spillage cannot be relied upon as a credible source without confirmation coming from the EPA."

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The statement said the four NGOs were disappointment with the unprofessional manner in which the Water Resource Commission carried out the test. "The research methodology defies basic scientific logic as it is based on a dubious theoretical foundation and we believe the sampling medium (water) was chosen to confirm the Minister's prejudgement", the statement said.

It said frequent cyanide spillage, three times in five years and twice within two weeks, was a source of worry to most environmentalists.

Four non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have accused the Minister for Environment and Science, Professor Dominic Fobih of playing a public relations role in the Goldfields cyanide spillage issue.

The four - Third World Network-Africa; Centre for Public Interest Law; Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining; and League of Environmental Journalists in a statement expressed their dismay at what they termed the Minister's "seeming public relations role".

ADVERTISEMENT

"Indeed it cannot be doubted that the attitude and pronouncements of the Minister have substantially prejudiced the investigations he instructed the agencies under his Ministry to conduct." "We wonder whether his loyalty lies with the good people of Ghana or with the mining companies?"

The four said they believe that the Minister's press conference where he stated that the first reporter had "blown the story out of proportion" was likely to influence the results of the independent tests that he charged certain institutions to undertake in the cyanide spillage.

"We believe his announcement has not only influenced the results of the tests conducted by the Water Resources Commission but also laid bare a serious conflict of interest, credibility and trust, thereby putting in doubt the Ministry and the Environmental Protection Agency's mission as watchdogs of the environment."

The statement said the four NGOs were, however, not surprised at this behaviour "because our long working experience with communities affected by mining has revealed that it is a usual practice of the state to collude with mining companies against the interest and concerns of local communities who sit on the ore deposits."

The statement said the long silence of the EPA on the matter of cyanide spillage was not only a denial of the peoples' rights to know but might also amount to an attempt to shield the company.

The EPA owed it a duty to the citizens of Ghana to ensure that they had access to information, especially communities that were directly affected by the spillage. "Information from the company on the spillage cannot be relied upon as a credible source without confirmation coming from the EPA."

The statement said the four NGOs were disappointment with the unprofessional manner in which the Water Resource Commission carried out the test. "The research methodology defies basic scientific logic as it is based on a dubious theoretical foundation and we believe the sampling medium (water) was chosen to confirm the Minister's prejudgement", the statement said.

It said frequent cyanide spillage, three times in five years and twice within two weeks, was a source of worry to most environmentalists.

Source: .